, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 89–104

Social and Ethical Interactions with Nano: Mapping the Early Literature

Original Paper


There is a rapidly expanding field of research on social and ethical interactions with nano-scaled sciences and technologies. An important question is: What does social and ethical research actually mean when it is focussed on technological applications that are largely hypothetical, and a field of science spread out across multiple disciplines and lacking unification? This paper maps early literature in the field of research as a way of answering this question. Our aim is to describe how this field is developing in response to its difficult task, and particularly, to comment on the topics of focus and where there is potential for future development. We present four topical categories, labelled Governance, Perception, Science and Philosophy, and use these as a tool to both map the field and to analyse its development. We find a majority of literature currently focused on issues of governance and perception, and offer suggestions for why this might be so. We then discuss cross-category themes of definition, novelty and interdisciplinarity, highlighting diverse positions and a problematic lack of direct debate. Our conclusion is that the field would benefit from more interaction, cross-referencing and creative research across traditional fields of inquiry.


Definition ELSA Interdisciplinarity Mapping Nanotechnology Novelty SEIN 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the HumanitiesUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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